Normally, this could be our dogs. I plead guilty — our dogs are very… indulged. 🙂 But with the grandson here, and his attendant entourage (Mom, Dad, Silas-the-dog and Rufus-the-cat), one of our dogs (the dysfunctional one) is at my sister’s. The other one is trying to figure out what the heck happened to his happy home.
So this picture — we have French bulldogs — resonates. And it reminds me: sometimes you just need to laugh. Really. And nothing does it like our best friends. 🙂 It also helps everything (including beginner’s heart!) not to take things toooo seriously. I’m sure that’s somewhere in one of the Buddha’s talks!
My grandson slept for three hours in my lap yesterday afternoon. Slept my legs into their own nap. Slept through phones ringing, dogs barking, and the afternoon sun waning. Wrapped snugly in his swaddling cloth, he might have been another era’s baby, proof against technologies and innovations.
One woman, an infant, a cloth. Nothing luxurious, unless you count the intangibles. Full belly. Safety. Love. Cool air on a very hot day. Something so few babies in our world have.
My son says I am not allowed to tell depressing stories to point out how grateful we all should be. Okaaaaay! But I am grateful. And I’m grateful that my grandson slept for three hours, unbroken by the grievances of most of the world’s infants. He isn’t a victim of mosquitoes bearing diseases, or water bearing bacteria. His limbs are straight. His head is only heavy with sleep. He has two parents, both with jobs and health care benefits. He has four living grandparents, each besotted with him. His mother is kind, generous, intelligent, and adores him. His father isn’t off fighting a war, but right here to hold him. The world’s best baby-sitter.
And this specific grandmother is the most grateful of women. For the privileges a first-world household & family offer her first grandchild.
Today, as you go about your day, look around. You don’t have to think of third-world tragedies. But a ‘thank-you’ for running water (hot AND cold!), air conditioning, safe food (and enough of it!), a roof, and reasonably clean sheets… I”m just sayin’ ~ Life is good. And worth noticing.
Most religions have a version of the Golden Rule: love others as you love yourself. Treat others as you would be treated. Do unto others as you would be done by. Here’s the catch: It means ZIP if you don’t love yourself. Respect yourself. Treat yourself with kindness.
And another ‘secret’: most of us DON’T treat ourselves as we would a friend. We say mean things to ourselves (you are SO fat! how STUPID are you?? what were you THINKING??). Hurtful things we would never utter to a friend. Maybe not even to someone we didn’t like!
One of the (many) reasons I think of myself as a Unitarian Universalist is that Universalists believe NO ONE goes to hell. Not even… Hitler! Because if people can forgive (and in this case? Think of Sister Prejean — Dead Man Walking — for an example of saintly forgiveness), surely an omnipotent One is capable of even more. Of maybe even wiping clean the evil and beginning w/ a clean heart. Who knows?
I have no idea what went on in Hitler’s mind, or what goes on in the mind of a man who would pull a pink headband off the head of a 2-year-old boy, and swear at the boy and his mother. A minor evil, certainly, compared to the evil overlord, but still evil. But I can forgive a man so threatened by homophobia that he takes it out on a toddler, even as I wonder what the heck is wrong with him.
But can I forgive myself the many times I’m unkind? The many days I’m tired and cranky, and snap at my damn-near-perfect husband? How about times I explode at politicians, and ersatz religious leaders who advocate hate & hostilities? Because if I can’t forgive myself for these infractions, as a friend told me recently: they will work themselves inside you, and you will see them everywhere.
Since I DO — waaay too often! — I am resolved again to work harder. Be it resolved: I will treat myself more kindly.
That does NOT mean I will lower my standards, however. Just that I won’t beat myself when I (inevitably!) fail ~
But sometimes I’m the one who forgets to be respectful. Right now, I’m seething over the Texas state school board’s decision to load the textbook committee with creationists. Which means — since Texas has a huge textbook market, and drives the output of many textbook publishers — that evolution may have a hard time in upcoming science (& other) textbooks.
I’m breathing sloooowly, inhaling my anger at what this will do to the futures of an entire state’s children. Exhaling balance, since I don’t see this as a peace-maker possibility. When people have strong faith, they are not (usually) willing to discuss. Much less compromise. At least here in Oklahoma, ‘discussing’ evolution vs. creationism means I want you to agree with me. And as I confessed, I’m often one of the guiltiest…
It’s hard for me to understand how people can believe the earth is only 10,000 years old. And yes, I realise that creationists believe in a literal reading of Genesis. But not one of the creationists I know reads the REST of the Old Testament literally. The women don’t wear long hair. The families don’t keep kosher. And all the other ‘laws’ of the Old Testament we have (rightfully) decided don’t belong in the 21st century.
What happens to faith if we believe in metaphor? Because if we don’t, sooo much of science is problematic. Which may account for why only about 1/3 of scientists believe in God. But that’s a misleading number: more than half (51%) believe in God/ a universal spirit/ a higher power. That’s not bad, given that scientists aren’t much on ‘faith,’ but want ‘evidence.’ 🙂
I do believe in something. But I don’t name it. And I don’t quantify it. Nor do I think whatever is behind everything — Buddha nature? — is, ultimately, ‘know-able.’ I’m a human speck, for cryin’ out loud! How on earth — or in heaven — can I expect to understand what made everything that was/ is/ shall be possible??
But you know what? I’m okay with that. I just wish I could articulate it — politely — in a way that convinced folks I know what I think. Because I’m really not interested in changing. Any more than they are! 🙂